You may be the fastest out there on the track, but when it comes to the climbs you’re stumped. You have to work harder to get over that hill, and once you’re over you need to play catch up with everyone else. Does this sound like you? With the right preparation and training, you can improve your hill climbs and your track times. Here’s what you can do to start training effectively.
Before You Ride Stay Hydrated:
Of course, you should always be staying hydrated while you’re on rides. A good sized water bottle is a must when you’re out on the track. Staying hydrated keeps your energy level up and helps you ride for longer.
However, one tip you may not know about is about when you should be drinking water. The best way to stay hydrated is to drink water around 20 minutes before you start racing. This is because water takes around 20 minutes to get into your system, so if you follow this tip you’ll be fully hydrated before you get on the track. Waiting until you’re thirsty means that you won’t be able to keep up with your body’s needs.
Check Your Tyres:
Your equipment can make all the difference when you’re working on your climbing. This doesn’t mean that you need to be buying the most expensive equipment, instead, it means you need to be taking care of the equipment that you already have.
Check your tyres before you head out. If the air pressure in them is low, it can make riding a lot harder. You’ll have to put a lot more effort in, tiring yourself out more quickly. When it comes to the hills, you’ll find yourself having to push a lot harder to keep up. Many bikers recommend keeping your tyres at 28 psi to get the best performance from them.
Stiffen Your Forks And Shocks:
If you have an adjustable fork and shocks on your bike, make sure you’re making the most of them. Adjusting them before a ride can make all the difference. Many riders don’t think to change them, as it makes for a comfortable ride. However, you won’t be getting the most out of your climbs this way.
To adjust your bike, dial down the fork compression and set the shock to climb mode. This is perfect for climbing, as it makes it more efficient. However, only do this if you’re looking to do a track without many technical sections, to get the most from your bike.
This isn’t to say that the lightest riders are the best at making climbs, but if you’re carrying a little extra weight, this could be slowing you down. This is thanks to gravity pulling down on you as you make the climb. The lighter you are, the more powerful you can be.
If you think you’re carrying some extra weight, it might be time to start looking at losing it. If you choose to do this, make sure that you’re losing it in a healthy way. The worst thing to do would be to lose the muscle you need to make those climbs.
Do Hill Repeats:
The best way to get better at climbing is to do it often. Hill repeats are a great way to train and get your body used to climbing efficiently.
The best way to do this is to ride up a hill as fast as you can, recover on the way back down, and then do it again. Practice makes perfect, so do it as many times as you can before you need to recover. If you keep this up, you’ll find you’ll improve every time you head out to do your reps.
If you live somewhere that’s too flat to let you do this, you can still get those reps in. All you have to do is use higher gears to act as ‘ghost hills’. This will help you achieve the same effect in your training.
Know The Climb:
If you’re training for a particular race, then you may be able to get to know the climbs involved. Take a look at the rack that you’ll be riding, and look to see what climbs you’ll be expected to tackle. If you can, go out to the track and ride it, to get a feel for it. You’ll be able to see what you’ll need to improve on while you’re out on the ride.
Even if you can’t get to the track, you’ll be able to get data on the size and gradient of the climbs. This should inform your rides and training, so you’ll be ready when the day comes.
Work On Your Breathing:
Yes, this sounds kind of obvious. You have to breathe, what effect does it have on your riding? You’d be surprised.
If you breathe quicker, you’ll send the message to your body to panic. It can trick your body into thinking you’re in genuine danger, and it’ll stop you from getting the most out of your ride. When you feel as though you’re going to do this on a climb, instead take long, deep breaths. These will help you keep calm and get up that hill.
On The Track
We all stand up on our bikes to get the most power from them as we ride. However, it’s not actually the best way to get up a hill. It gives us a burst of power, but it’ll also tire us out quickly. Therefore, it’s actually better to sit down in the saddle when you go up the hill.
Sitting down will take the pressure off you, as you won’t be supporting your own body weight as you ride. It’ll also help you bring in more muscle groups to help you climb more efficiently.
Trying to get up that hill can be stressful, but don’t let it get to you. Being too stressed can lead to you holding on too tightly to the handlebars, tensing up, and even injury if it goes on for too long.
Pay attention to the way you’re sitting on your bike as you climb. Keep your back straight and your shoulders back, to allow your diaphragm to open up, allowing you to bring in more air. Change your hand position on the handlebars, and relax.
Keep The Pace:
Pace, not race, is the key to a good climb. Some races can go for an hour or more, so you’ve got to keep yourself going for the long haul. If you go out full pelt at the beginning of the race, then you’re going to tire yourself out way too quickly.
As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. Take your time, and save your energy for those climbs. If you’ve checked out the track before the race, you’ll be onto a winner here. You’ll know exactly where you need to speed up and use more power, so you can save your energy for when you need it the most.
These tips should help you prepare, train, and complete those hill climbs. Put them to use and you’ll find you’ll be able to do bigger and bigger climbs all the time.